Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t have a life of use to others, says Angelina Jolie.
Oliver Sacks said we are our internal self-narrative, the narrative we describe our experiences, the experiences of our acting and the experiences of our feelings. Without an internal self-narrative we have no identity, we don't know who we are.
We become ourselves through others who we interact with, who we share experiences, feelings and emotions. It means the self is always touched by the otherness, it's about finding or identifying the self in the other-self, according to Susan Sontag, who we recognize their features, mood, feelings, culture, believes and acting in ourselves. We can literally say that plurality is the law of the earth, without the other we are left with our thoughts and living solely in reflection creates insatiable desires, the endless pursuit to fill the emptiness (a biological unbalance) and feed a starved self-image, says Hannah Arendt. An urge to act because only through acting we can feel real and fulfilled. Experiences nurture our senses and through it is born the Self, says Fréderic Lordon who describes it as the economics of joy.
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in others shoes so we become kind and honest to others as if we were doing it for ourselves, because we are feeling how it is to be in the other's position. This causes the brain to produce serotonin, that makes us have a well-being feeling. The same when someone is kind and honest to us, we have the empathy to put ourselves in their shoes and we understand they putting themselves in our shoes, allowing them to feel good in such expression towards us. For our brain it means we are socially understood and accepted. It is the cause of a socio-biological harmony because from others acceptance and understanding comes self-reassurance and self-acceptance. But we can also call it as love (Agape love to be more precise, the highest form of Christian love) that you can have towards friends, neighbors and even strangers. But if people feel alienated from each other in society it causes an opposite feeling and reaction called cynicism.
Empathy, social confidence and play are strong related, Play is embedded not only in humans but in all kind of animals; Fish, lizards, spiders, birds, they all play. It was found that play is part of evolution and as important as sleeping and eating according to scientist Stuart Brown. Animals that grow up playing have more social confidence and social intelligence, more empathy even towards other species, becoming less aggressive by showing less sign of violence and more relaxed. Some animals, such as rats, become depressed if hindered of playing. On the other hand, when growing up without playing animals and humans develop social anxiety.
Play is universal, part of every human being’s creativity and the source of a meaningful life. The capacity to add something of one’s own to the common world is the most elementary form of human creativity. If such capacity is destroyed, which can happens for many reasons such as economic isolation, social isolation or cultural isolation, isolation becomes all together unbearable, according to Arendt again.
Happiness is found on joy. We have joy on things that make us feel a biological and social harmony. The biggest joy one can have is to appreciate oneself as the cause of joy to others, which gives the person a grate power of acting and interaction (socially acceptance or the sense of belonging). Unfortunately, in our society, there is a big competition for that power through glamour, popularity, money, fame, status, etc; Things that causes the monopolization of joy, of the acting power, of social integration and harmony. Consequently, from such monopolization comes hate, blames, humiliation, envy, jealousy and further distress people causes to others, including exploitation of others or submission to others since being social is a biological necessity. Aloofness is the bureaucratic self images, or illusion, of a social power of belonging, as well as the power of being a gate-keeping of the social belonging.
Acting and playing means appearing. To appear involves confidence and risk, both that comes from trust. Trust we find where we identify ourselves with otherwise the other feels alien to us. When the otherness appears as alien to us we feel judged, excluded, hatred, cynic and not being able to act because of anxiety caused to such feelings, consequently not being able to become; Not being able to build an "I", said Alan Watts. The monopolization of joy through money, aloofness and even culture alienate people, the cause of feeling excluded from the socio-biological harmony.
The conclusion is that have fun is a serious matte. Through acting and playing we develop imagination which is important for us to gain a wider perspective of our reality, from our senses nurture , which means less alienated or less averse to different things and people.
So love people for let you express your empathy and let them express their empathy. Feel the serotonin effect together. Don't take life and people too serious but play and then let them go, move on. Be grateful for the moment experience you got and the nice memories they helped you stamp in your self-narrative. Be grateful to have an other person who accept you for such exchange for your socio-biological harmony, because it demands trust above all. If you have nobody to play with, make art.
At the end we are all the same only in different circumstances. Thank you for your trust on my act, that gives me a self-narrative about who I am and where I belong to, which without I would not be able to find my Self and there would be no “I”.
As a newborn we don't know that existed a world before us, we don't know that the things and people we see, hear and interact were there before us, we don't even know the concept of "before". When a newborn cries as a reaction of the uncomfortable or painful feeling of hunger their mother offers the milk from her breast, while for the newborn it is as if they have created the milk out of his cries, it is as if they have create the breast, as if it is appearing from nowhere; for the newborn even their mother is his own creation, as everything that there is out there and come in contact with them. Donald Winnicott explains it's natural for newborns to feel like everything comes from them. It's not a thinking, not a conceptualization in their heads (since they have none) but only a sensation.
If we feel people and things comes from us then it is as if they are us, it is specially true in relation with newborns and mothers who they experience the more frequency and intense touch, glance and care; who the newborn recognize the voice, the movements and the heartbeat when in their her womb.
The process of growing up is a phase of frustration because it is when we face the harsh reality that we can't have things as would please us and whenever we want all the time. It is when we start to realize that our mothers are an independent person with her own individuality, that things don't disappear when we don't see, feel and hear them anymore but they just go somewhere else, in an other place and reality that exist independent from us and was there before us came to the world.
Winnicott explains it is important for the child to express their frustration; The frustration expression happens in many ways, from associating people and things with good or bad personalities they learn from stories, by expressing and illustrating such associations in drawings, through playing which Winnicott described as a serious thing for the child, because it is through playing children try to make sense of the world and express their feelings; by expressing the act of love or hate and even destruction when the frustration feels unbearable, such as kicking doors and throwing things on the floor in anger. When toddlers are repressed, forbidden or punished, for being aggressive or destructive, they express their frustration in dreams, often as a nightmare.
All expression, of any kind, is an act of creation and destruction of our wishes and frustration even for grown ups. The act of building things, shape things, drowning and interacting are acts of creation that often help us to deal and overcome things in life that we can not have as we wished. In building and shaping things, or painting and drawing, in an aggressive manner or in an odd, freak, antic form can be an expression of destruction. At the end, what differ adults from toddlers other then becoming civilized, which means learning to repress and express our feelings of love (creation) and frustration (destruction) in a civilized way?
Depending on how we were allowed to overcome our unbearable frustrations is how we learn to deal with it in adult life. Not being able to overcome our natural frustration while growing up creates damaged adults who becomes little dictators, manipulative, aggressive, expressing their emotional pain with mean comments about people, through aggressive identitarian expression (such as football team support, nationalism or so) or through political and ideological position as representation of good and evil to be fought and imposed as they wish. The wanting of creating the world the way they want and the frustration of not being able to, which turns people nihilist.
Art helps us to deal with our feelings, it helps us to become civilized, it is the playing and the symbolic association we do to things, just like toddlers do which deep inside it is always serious for helping us to make sense of this world. Every act and interaction is an expression; From the little help we offer to a stranger, in mean comments some people do about others' appearances, in art, especially in confusing art, all is a form of expression.
Maybe because of its expressiveness representation people normally expect art to have a message, so they try to interpret what pieces of art say or what they are about, turning art into a utilitarian object that needs to have an explanation in order to be accepted and recognize as art. But as Susan Sontag says in "Against Interpretation", art is not about something, art is not supposed to have an utilitarian use for the public who appreciate and collect it, art is not about something. Art is a thing of its own, its only use is to experience it, sense it, as we are supposed to sense the world around us, shapes, sounds, colours, texture, composition pasterns and so. The same was a child kinking the door because of frustration is not a message but a sole expression of frustration, a something to be experienced in order to overcome the frustration, a hope that out of the destruction a greater figure will establish order. Reason why adults should not ask toddlers why they are misbehaving, they don't know and according to psychoanalysts such question only creates more confusion and frustration in their heads, which causes them to overthinking, leading them to mental stress and depression.
We can create and recreate meanings according to our own individual or collective understanding and experiences. Meanings are important, they are the associative representation we use to make sense of the world, consequently we use such meanings in our conceptual expression. But meaning and truth are not the same thing, so art is not about the message it carries (the meaning we give to it) but about the experiencing of its expressiveness, as creation and destruction, as overcoming our deep painful and unbearable feeling that causes us to overthink, so we can quite our mind and experience the fulfilling calm stillness behind everything, after the fulfilling act.